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Edison Company History

Old Camp 73 Photos -
Big Creek, CA - 1925
Southern California Edison Company
by Vaughn Aubuchon

The Southern California Edison Company built the Big Creek hydroelectric complex, which consisted of several dams, tunnels, penstocks, and powerhouses. The purpose of the project was to supply a rapidly growing Los Angeles with electrical power. After all, this was the "Roaring 20's".

Camp 73 was a work camp for much of this construction. All this predated Roosevelt's WPA dam-building rampage of the 1930's by 10 years, which resulted from government action to fight the depression.

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1. Huntington Lake

2.
Huntington Lake Store

3.
Big Creek Powerhouse

4.
Big Creek Penstock

5.
Camp 73 Housing

6.
Camp 73 Tank Pile

7.
Camp 73 Hospital

8.
Camp 73 Tent City

9.
Camp 73 Tents (blown-up)

10.
Camp 73 Tunnel



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Huntington Lake, CA - 1925

1. Huntington Lake, CA - 1925
Elevation 6,950 feet - Capacity 89,166 acre feet - Storage began April 12, 1913
Huntington Lake supplies water to all of Edison Company Big Creek powerhouses. In 1917, a fourth dam was built, and the original three were raised in height. The water from Huntington Lake flows down a very steep penstock to Big Creek powerhouse #1, located in Big Creek, CA.




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Huntington Lake Store, CA - 1925
2. Huntington Lake Store - 1925
General store, post office, barber shop and A.C. Mudge's "Scenic Studio" at Huntington Lake, CA. Under Mudge's sign, is another sign saying "Fresno Republican Paper For Sale" (est. 1876). The store is entirely boarded up. Walking under that porch looks a little dangerous.




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Big Creek Powerhouse, Cal - 1925
3. Big Creek, CA Powerhouse #1 - 1925
The powerhouse receives water from Huntington Lake from the very steep penstock, which goes straight up the mountain to the right of the photo - an 80% grade. The San Joaquin and Eastern Railroad trestle can be seen on the left.




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Big Creek Penstock - 1925
4. Big Creek Penstock - 1925
The water from Huntington Lake flows down the penstock to the Big Creek powerhouse. The penstock cannot be seen, but it is located in the snow filled depression coming down the mountain on the upper left.




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5. Camp 73 Housing, Big Creek, CA - November 17, 1925
Notice the early automobiles.
I count about 14 cabins for married workers. Bachelors lived in the tent cabins. Take note of the "spar pole and lifting arm crane", which can also be seen in Photos #8 and #9.




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Camp 73 Tanks, Big Creek, CA - SoCal Edison Co.
6. Camp 73 Tank Pile, Big Creek, CA - November 17, 1925
This is a blowup of Photo #5 above.
What are all those discarded tanks, acetylene? I don't think there was any propane back then. They don't look like gasoline tanks. They must be really heavy, since they are sitting right underneath the loading crane, along with other very heavy pieces of equipment.




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Camp 73 Hospital, Big Creek, CA - SoCal Edison Co.
7. Camp 73 Hospital, Big Creek, CA - November 17, 1925
Poor road, but plenty of electricity.




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Camp 73 Tents, Big Creek, CA - SoCal Edison Co.
8. Camp 73 Tents, Big Creek, CA - 1925
Here are the same cabins shown in Photo #6, from the opposite angle.
Notice the "spar pole crane" again. What are those 2 funny looking things in the foreground? Birdhouse and a chimney? Time clock and a salmon smoker? Notice the large tents in the background, for the unmarried workers.




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Camp 73 Tents (blown up), Big Creek, CA - SoCal Edison Co.
9. Camp 73 Tents (blown up), Big Creek, CA - 1925
This is a blowup of the tents in Photo #8 above.
Notice all the guy wires going to the top of the loading crane spar pole on the left. Wires and wood, EVERYWHERE!




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Camp 73 Tunnel, Big Creek, CA - SoCal Edison Co.
10. Camp 73 Tunnel, Big Creek, CA - November 17, 1925
If the water flowed down the penstock, then what was the tunnel for? How do you seal the inside of a tunnel that has huge water pressure?




A thousand thanks to Barbara Hughes for sending me these great historical photos, which had been saved by Elizabeth Stone. Without the photos, this page would not exist.

Some members of the Aubuchon family lived and worked at Camp 73, and may have included
Fred Aubuchon
Harry Aubuchon
Mike Aubuchon.

Old Aubuchon Family Photos from Selma, CA

Old Packer Family Photos from Los Angeles, CA

Old Aubuchon Family photos from Los Angeles, CA

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This Southern California Edison Co. photos nostalgia
page was last updated on 2017-06-28.